Thursday, April 18, 2024

50 years later: ICLS ‘home’ in the works

By Allianah Junnice Bolotaulo and Paul Ray Donaire | October 12, 2023

With the vision of committing to total human development, Silliman University (SU) stands to instill transformative “competence, character, and faith” in its students. The goal of whole-person education is achieved through abiding by the 5Cs. However, this vision becomes unattainable if any inadequacies in its foundation exist. In this case, the classroom is considered a major component of the university—and the “second home” of students. 

The Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences (ICLS) was established and approved by the Board of Trustees (BOT) in May 2009. Before that, the program was under the Biology Department of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) in 1970. It later built its Department of Medical Technology but was still under the said college by 1987. 

Fifty-three years after the program first came to life, Prof. Jane Belarmino, vice president for development, enterprise, and external affairs (VPDEEA), confirmed that the ICLS building design is currently being finalized. 

“My office is working with the Department of Architecture on the building plans for ICLS.  We hope to send the plans for approval by the BOT by the end of the year,” Prof. Belarmino said. 

A three-story building fronting the Medical School is currently being designed for the institute. It will have classrooms and laboratories for medical technology students. 

Why now?

Giving ICLS its building has “always been part” of the university’s plans, according to the VPDEEA. However, they prioritized the urgent need for senior high school (SHS) students to settle in one area. 

The plans for an ICLS building were “moved forward” to create the SHS building. They made this decision since ICLS had the Ethel Chapman (EC) building to utilize, while SHS had no place given its more recent establishment following the K-12 curriculum. 

Observing that the EC Hall has become “too small already” for the student population, Prof. Belarmino brought up the demand for an ICLS building to the BOT in late 2022. 

She also said that the BOT told them to proceed with the preparations after they presented the situation.

“Now, [that] the plans are ready, we are going to present it to the board for approval after a year of planning,” she added. 

After the presentation to the BOT, the plans will be revised and finalized in detail. Only then can the bidding, processing of permits, and construction start. 

Due to the tedious procedures involved in constructing buildings, there is no set date for the start or completion of the project. 

Vittorio Vinarao, Department of Architecture Chairperson, emphasized that until approved by the ICLS Dean and faculty, VPDEEA, and the BOT, nothing is finalized. 

“The design team is still in the process of continuous consultation with the ICLS administration and faculty as part of the design development phase,” he said. 

The design team is composed of architects and engineers from the SU College of Engineering and Design (CED). All projects of the office of the VPDEEA are spearheaded by the Department of Architecture. Among their designs were the Senior High School building, Del Carmen Honor Hall, and Ariniego Art Gallery. 

ICLS and the request for a home

ICLS Dean Dr. Teodora Cubelo said that, while mechanisms are in place to maximize their spaces and faculty, the “only drawback” in their current situation is the difficulty in supervising facilities far from each other. 

“[It is] more difficult to supervise if there are two buildings (Angelo King and EC) to look into… That’s why we’re asking for one home only,” she cited. 

With only 200 accepted applicants into the program annually, ICLS has to control its student population due to the limited number of classrooms and faculty.

The upcoming building follows the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (PAASCU) recommendation of housing ICLS in one place. Aside from its effects on student learning, managing the institute in separate buildings is not cost-effective.

The state of Ethel Chapman building

The EC building was once a dormitory hall for nursing students that has now been converted into medical technology laboratory rooms. As one of the oldest buildings in the university, it requires thorough and supervised maintenance from the SU Buildings and Grounds (BG). 

BG Superintendent Engr. Edgar Ygnalaga confirmed that the EC building is “not unstable.” However, some portions are termite-infested following the structural engineer’s evaluation. 

According to Engr. Ygnalaga, the portion towards Alice Fullerton Hall was advised for disuse due to the ongoing renovation of the comfort room. However, with the weight of the concrete used loaded on top of the wooden floor, it deteriorated over time. 

“So meaning, maglakaw ka dira, naay movement na mag ana siya [So meaning, when you walk there, there is a movement (describing that the floor moves)],” he explained. 

For safety purposes, only the classrooms on the north side of the EC building near the University Library are used for lectures by medical technology students. 

However, Prof. Belarmino stated that once ICLS has its building, the EC Hall will be “vacated.” 

Furthermore, Engr. Ygnalaga confirmed that the building will also be demolished to make a new building. 

Students’ experiences

“Students have been clamoring face-to-face and online about the lack of a building for the ICLS department,” said ICLS Governor Cedrick Babor.

However, he added that the materials and facilities needed for laboratory activities have been provided by the department, so “there hasn’t really been a clamor” in that aspect.

“With the support of our Dean, [Dr.] Teodora Cubelo, our curriculum has been meticulously crafted and continuously improved to maximize the learning experience, ensuring that even in the absence of extensive facilities, our students receive a comprehensive understanding that prepares them for real-world challenges and opportunities in their field of study,” he explained.    

Even with that, Babor continued to emphasize the importance of proper facilities in ensuring quality education.

Along with the academic pressure of taking the Medical Technologist Licensure Exam, a building that is designed specifically for medical technology students is a requirement the university must fulfill. 

With complete laboratory equipment, materials, and standard lecture classrooms, students’ motivation to attend classes could mark a higher satisfaction rating and the overall university’s excellence in the program. 

“Therefore, the absence of proper facilities can significantly impact students’ learning in Medical Technology,” he noted. 

As an institute, ICLS also provides an avenue for student-led organizations like other colleges within the university. However, without a building, the student council experiences difficulties conducting programs and activities. As the governor, Babor and his fellow student leaders have had no choice but to reach out to other departments to ask permission for facility usage.

“We encounter occasional difficulties in securing suitable venues for our events that can accommodate all 650+ of our constituents,” Babor said. 

He also claimed that the absence of an ICLS building hampers “fostering a stronger sense of unity among our constituents.” 

On plans 

Once permitted for occupancy, ICLS will move out of the AK building and into their own.

Dr. Cubelo said they plan to open clinical facilities that can benefit people within and beyond the institute. 

“We plan to put up a clinical research center that will assist not just the students and faculty of ICLS, but others as well,” she said.

Dr. Cubelo also said they hoped to start a clinical laboratory that will cater to the needs of the university members.

(This is the first story of a three-part special report on the buildings and facilities of SU ICLS, IRS, and Pharmacy programs.)

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